Pizza always makes a bad day feel better, and there’s nothing nicer than a perfect slice of margherita pizza. Now you can make this recipe at home any time the craving strikes!
Pizza margherita, as the Italians call it, is a simple pizza hailing from Naples. When done right, margherita pizza features a bubbly crust, crushed San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and basil, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt. That is all.
Sure, you could add some tomato if you’d like, but only if the tomato is truly ripe, red and worthy. Authentic Neapolitan pizza margherita doesn’t require fresh tomato. Try making this pizza as written, and you won’t miss the tomato on top. Sometimes less is more.
This pizza is simple, fresh and a guaranteed crowd pleaser. It’s a delight to make and even better to eat. How about pizza tonight?
Pizza Margherita Ingredients
As usual, I used my go-to whole wheat pizza dough. When made with white whole wheat flour, it doesn’t even taste like whole wheat!
In a hurry? This pizza will work with one pound of store-bought dough as well.
San Marzano Tomatoes
San Marzano tomatoes are a special variety of plum tomato originating from the San Marzano region near Naples, Italy. San Marzano tomatoes are tender and rich in flavor. Even the tomato sauce inside the can is thicker than most other whole canned tomatoes. They are special.
San Marzano tomatoes are the traditional choice for pizza margherita and yield the perfect sauce. Simply pour the whole can into a bowl and crush the tomatoes by hand before using.
Fresh Mozzarella Balls
Look for mozzarella balls packed in water, rather than vacuum-sealed. Water-packed mozzarella is superior in flavor and texture; vacuum-sealed mozzarella can taste rubbery.
Ovoline mozzarella balls are my favorite for pizza margherita since they are the perfect size (about 1-inch in diameter). Larger or smaller mozzarella balls will work, too. Just tear them into smaller pieces as necessary.
Whole Foods offers water-packed ovoline mozzarella, and one container is the perfect amount for two pizzas (12 ounces dry weight). Bocconcini mozzarella balls work well, too.
Fresh basil is absolutely essential. Once the pizza is out of the oven, sprinkle a handful of finely sliced basil on each pizza. I like to add a few small basil leaves for accents, too. Cute!
Olive Oil & Salt
Margherita pizza is not complete without a light drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Be careful as you pour so you don’t accidentally overdo it.
Lastly, add a sprinkle of flaky sea salt or kosher salt. Our sauce doesn’t contain any added sauce, so a light sprinkle of salt helps bring out the best flavors in this pizza.
What to Serve with Margherita Pizza
- Italian Chopped Salad: My top pick!
- Layered Panzanella: More tomato and mozzarella goodness, in salad form.
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 2 pizzas 1x
- Category: Main dish
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: Italian
- Diet: Vegetarian
Make classic margherita pizza at home with this simple recipe! This Neapolitan pizza is fresh, delicious and easy to make. Recipe yields 2 medium (11-inch diameter) pizzas.
- 1 batch easy whole wheat pizza dough or 1 pound store-bought pizza dough
- 1 large can (28 ounces) whole San Marzano tomatoes
- 12 ounces (dry weight) ovoline-type mozzarella or other fresh mozzarella balls, ideally water-packed
- Handful of fresh basil, thinly sliced plus small leaves
- Additional garnishes: Drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, flaky sea salt or kosher salt and optional red pepper flakes
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack in the upper third of the oven. If you’re using a baking stone or baking steel, place it on the upper rack. Prepare dough through step 5.
- Place a medium mixing bowl in the sink and pour the canned tomatoes into the bowl, juices and all. Crush the tomatoes by hand. Spread about ¾ cup of the tomato sauce evenly over each pizza, leaving about 1 inch bare around the edges.
- If your mozzarella is packed in water, drain off the water and gently pat the mozzarella dry on a clean tea towel or paper towels. If you’re working with large mozzarella balls, tear them into smaller 1-inch balls. Distribute the mozzarella over the pizza, concentrating it a bit more in the center of the pizza, as it will melt toward the edges.
- Bake pizzas individually on the top rack until the crust is golden and the cheese is just turning golden, about 10 to 12 minutes (or significantly less, if you’re using a baking stone/steel—keep an eye on it).
- Top each pizza generously with fresh basil, followed by a light back-and-forth drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of salt, and red pepper flakes, if you wish. Slice and enjoy. Leftover pizza will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Make it dairy free/vegan: While untraditional, this pizza would be good with vegan sour cream drizzled across the pizza both before and after baking. Simply omit the Parmesan in the pizza crust recipe.
Make it gluten free: Substitute your favorite homemade or store-bought pizza dough.